Almost 1.8 million property tax bills with a due date of Aug. 1 will begin arriving in the mail next week across Cook County, Treasurer Maria Pappas said.
“Read your bill carefully,” Pappas urged in a press release.
“This tax bill is very informative but many people don’t bother to examine it. It provides a breakdown of where your money is going.”
The bills are for the second installment of tax year 2011. Bills from one year are due the next year.
The typical bill lists 12 to 20 taxing districts that claim part of the payment, along with each district’s share of the payment, amount for pension obligations, and current and past-year tax rates, the release said.
For even more transparency, according to the release, the treasurer’s office created an on-line research tool.
An owner of a home, business or land can visit cookcountytreasurer.com or cookcountypropertyinfo.com and see the local municipality and taxing districts’ financial statements and debt.
For those who may not have access to a computer, lists of all of Cook County’s 550 taxing districts with their financial information were to be published in large Chicagoland weekend newspapers, including the Sun-Times, and ads about the issue were prepared for community newspapers.
“Read your bill and do the simple research,” Pappas said. “You have the right to know where your payment is going and how much of it is for debt such as pensions.”
Taxpayers visiting the treasurer’s website or the county portal should:
Click “View Taxing Districts Financial Statements.”
Enter the property’s 14-digit Property Index Number(PIN).
Click the icon next to a taxing district’s name.
For a given district, the viewer will see data uploaded to the treasurer’s website, as required of taxing districts by the county’s Debt Disclosure Ordinance. The information includes:
Local government budgeted revenues.
Local government debt and pension debt.
Local government levy (taxing) history and percentage of change over 10 years.
Rate of return on investments.
Rate of salary increases.
To avoid penalties of 1.5 percent per month, payment should be made on or before Aug. 1.
Pappas reported that 22 taxing districts had not sent their financial data to her office’s website, thus failing to comply with the county’s Debt Disclosure Ordinance.
“For the sake of transparency with the people and to meet the law, these taxing districts should report their data immediately,” Pappas said, noting that the reporting deadline was in December of 2011.